Turks and Greeks: Neighbors in Conflict
by Vamik D. Volkan and Norman Itzkowitz
Huntington, Eng.: Eothen, 1994. 233 pp. £14.95
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Books on the Arab-Israeli conflict fill a library, while the Lebanese civil war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iraq-Iran War have each inspired a sizeable literature. In contrast, the Pakistani-Indian and Turkish-Greek confrontations remain virtually unstudied in the West. This lacunae makes even so elementary work as Turks and Greeks useful to a wide range of readers, for there's simply nothing like it.
Volkan and Itzkowitz write from an emphatically Turkish point of view; the former is a professor of psychiatry of Turkish origins, the latter a historian of the Ottoman Empire. As befits these two disciplines, they approach the Turkish-Greek conflict historically with a strong dollop of psychology thrown in, a dollop that some readers may well find too strong. Still, they have interesting points to make. Perhaps the most intriguing has to do with the two concepts of Turkokratia (Greek, "Ottoman rule over Greeks") and Hellenism (in this context, an ideology of Western European origins that calls on Greeks to adopt ancient Greek ways). The authors note the extremely conspiratorial attitude of many Greeks toward Turks and argue that this results from hundreds of years of shared history followed by a need to live up to the Western ideal of Hellenism; to attain this, Greeks found it necessary to extrude all that is Ottoman about themselves, as well as to hate those who most obviously carry forward that legacy -- today's Turks.
Related Topics: Daniel Pipes | June 1996 MEQ
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